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Think local when it comes to growth for Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:26 01 July 2010

Chris Bishop

A new enterprise partnership could be formed to bring jobs and investment to Norfolk.

A new enterprise partnership could be formed to bring jobs and investment to Norfolk.

Ministers are expected to axe regional development agencies as the coalition government grapples to bring Britain's finances under control.

They plan to replace them with locally-elected partnerships which would be more focussed on the needs of their communities and less costly to the taxpayer.

All nine of Norfolk's MPs have signed an open letter, calling on businesses across the county to support the new partnership.

“The new government will shortly formalise its stated intention to create the space for local enterprise partnerships in the place of a regional structure that, in many local people's views, was not relevant enough to us here in Norfolk,” it says.

“The state of the public finances requires a new approach. We need to be business-led and support private sector leadership and job creation.

“Norfolk needs economic growth for prosperity, new jobs and the regeneration of the deprived parts of our county. We don't need a government quango to do this for us.”

Over the last 10 years, the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has invested £131m into Norfolk's economy, creating or safeguarding more than 5,500 jobs.

A spokesman said: “We're fully involved in the conversation with businesses and councils to find out what's the best for taking economic development forward.”

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “Norfolk can lead the way. There's no need for remote and cumbersome bureaucracy to develop the county economically when it can be done locally.

“Any local enterprise partnership has to be private sector-led, in partnership with local councils, because business knows how to do it.”

Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “This is a chance to focus on Norfolk and what Norfolk needs. It's the government saying you know your area, you know what you need, you put together a system which is best for your area.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “I have always had my concerns about these development agencies because I feel they've been remote from Norfolk and indifferent at responding to Norfolk's needs.”

The MPs' letter highlights Norfolk's “huge economic potential” in new sectors such as offshore wind energy, undersea carbon capture and food sciences.

“We invite business and communities across Norfolk to take up this opportunity and to think about how we can each play our part in unlocking an exciting economic future for Norfolk,” it says.

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